Signs that your cat or kitten may be sick

Even with all the love and care in the world, your cat or kitten may get sick. You can make sure all their vaccinations are up to date, they eat only vet-approved food, you pamper and protect them – and they can still get sick. Whether it be a routine sickness or chronic condition, here are a few signs and symptoms that your kitty isn’t well and needs to be taken to the vet.

As a side note: these are the more subtle signs, so if your cat has a massive abscess, has a bleeding anything, open wound or gash etc… just take them straight to vet. Don’t even read further or try home remedies.

#1 Overgrooming

Cats spend most of their lives napping and grooming. And grooming is a good sign; it shows your kitty feels well and wants to look good. But excessive grooming, especially grooming in a particular spot over-and-over-and-over again, definitely is something you should investigate. If you have dewormed your cat or kitten and treated them with spot-on meds for external parasites and you still see your kitty is grooming excessively, licking out their fur, licking sores or grooming to the point of agitation – it is time to see the vet.

Our story:

Cheeky, one of our beautiful queens has a skin condition – if anything in her environment changes or anything bites her (like a midge or mosquito), she licks her tummy raw. Fortunately, we take her to the vet, she has an allergy or cortisone shot and it goes away almost instantly (within days if you catch it early).

#2 Vomiting and diarrhoea

Cats vomit and they get hairballs. They may eat too much or too quickly and blergh. But if a cat vomits several times or for more than a day; or intermittently but consistently, it is time to consult a vet. If your cat or kitten gets diarrhoea, or vomits and gets diarrhoea, it is a serious matter – your cat can dehydrate which can escalate quickly. This warrants a same-day vet visit. Rather be cautious than have your cat suffer unnecessarily or for their condition to get critical before you seek professional help.

Our story:

Our darling Kuhie, that went to heaven last year, started vomiting a lot over some time. He was a senior cat (nine), so we had him checked out – he had kidney disease. This often made him nauseous and he often vomited. We managed it with nausea shots weekly or every two weeks (administered with his “subcut” fluids). The point is the vomiting was a sign of serious disease and we could manage it because we noticed and took him to the vet.

Also, Oliver our beautiful new kitten started vomiting and retching. To tell a long “tail” short, he was given antibiotics (after we tried several less “potent” treatments) and probiotics (for his water), and voila we had our happy, boisterous kitten back after a few days.

#3 Unusual vocalisation

You get talkative cats, cats that give you vocal cattitude and kitties that do “catcalls” when you walk past the food bowls. But if your normally demure kitty suddenly becomes more vocal, or their vocalisations changes (becomes deeper, longer, more urgent) it is time to investigate. If you have fed them, given them attention, checked their water bowls and did a quick investigation of their environment and everything seems in order, do a body check on your kitty. Check their paws, tummy, tail, face, mouth and back. See if they are sensitive in any areas, if there is any swelling or sores on their coat. Trust your instincts. You know your cat best. And take them to the vet if it continues.

Our story:

One afternoon, our cat came home from gallivanting in the neighbourhood (this was before cat fencing). He came in and made a low and deep meowing sound. When we investigated (because he usually gave high pitched mew-mew sounds), he had cut his whole tummy open on spikes. We quickly rushed him to the vet and had him stitched etc. But it was his vocalisations that alerted us something was up. Your case may not be so obvious but listen to those meows, they may be saying something more than “feed me meow”.

#4 Appetite changes

Some cats are piggies and just consume, consume, consume. Other cats and kittens aren’t too perturbed by food – they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. What is important is to know your cat/kitten, know when they are eating more or less and drinking more or less than usual. Monitor the situation, and if it continues, take your cat to the vet (especially if the cat doesn’t want to eat or drink, or drinks water excessively).

Our story:

Changes in our cats’ appetites have indicated many a time in our household that something wasn’t right. And most of the time, it took one vet’s visit to sort out the issue, but it could have become serious if ignored. Drinking excessive water has for example been an indicator of chronic illness, like kidney disease for us but also indicated a kitty feeling nauseous from a tummy issue, in another.  So, in our experience, any drastic change in appetite or thirst is something to take note of.

#5 Struggling to jump

If you notice your cat hesitating to jump up on surfaces they previously flew up without a care in the world, or perhaps they become sensitive to your touch or to you picking them up, then you should consider going to vet with your fluffy for a thorough examination.

Our story:

One day we noticed one of our cats wanting to jump on a couch that he had jumped on at least a thousand times, but this time it was different. He kept wiggling his bottom and hind legs like a golfer ready to tee-off (is that the correct word, even?) and aiming for the couch but hesitating. After three “tee-offs” he jumped and made it to the couch. We observed this behaviour all over the house and then took the kitty to the vet. Turns out the poor tom had arthritis down his spine and his hind legs. Fortunately, because we took him to the vet, we could get chronic pain meds for him and he lived many years with no issues or worries.

The best thing you can do for your pet is to know them well. Know their coat and if there is a particular shine to it, know their behaviours and habits, know their sleeping and eating patterns, know their tails and paws, just know and love them. If you know them well, do body checks and quick examinations often and give them regular TLC – you will pick up if something is wrong, different, peculiar, or new. You will know that you know if something is up. By taking your cat to your vet in time, you can ensure your kitty’s story is “cattily” ever after and not “cat-astrophic”. 🙂

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